The new year came with a change in ownership for one of Benton County’s long-time businesses. Ben Marks, of Marks Building Materials on Hwy. 70 East, has sold the lumberyard to Seth Bennett.
Seth is the owner of Watson Lumber Co., in Huntingdon and Bennett Hardware in McKenzie. With the change in ownership, the former Marks location has taken on the Watson Lumber name, but few other changes are expected at the Camden lumberyard.
The Marks family has over 200 years of history in owning and operating a family business. Marks Building Materials got its start in the 1800s when Ben’s grandfather M.B. Marks opened a dry goods store in Bells. Later, the business moved to Jackson and changed hands, with Ben’s aunt taking over.
In the l920s, Ben’s father Julian Marks made the decision to move the business to the rural community of Camden. The smaller town appealed to him with a greater opportunity for growth and limited competition. Thus, “Marks” was established on Camden’s Court Square. Primarily a dry goods store at that time, the store sold mainly clothing items such as overalls, jackets, and shirts.
Julian opened the lumberyard in its current location in 1965. Ben returned to work at the family business in 1974 and became owner five years later in 1979. Ben has run the business ever since, with a focus on great customer service.
“I’ve always liked this business,” Ben said of his time spent at the lumberyard. “We put a lot of value on the people who walk through the doors here and do our best to take care of them by providing quality products and service.”
Those values were important for Ben to find when considering a new owner for his family business. He wanted to be sure his contractors and customers would continue to be served by someone who saw it as a long-term commitment, and saw the value of the local, small-town, family business.
“I knew Seth Bennett had a very similar family-owned business in Carroll County,” Ben shared. “He had an interest and it was a good fit. He plans to keep all the local staff and is a person who is involved in his community. These are all qualities that stood out to me.”
Seth is not new to the lumber business. He first went to work for Jimmy Watson over 20 years ago. He worked there for 10 years before buying in as part owner, ultimately becoming the sole owner of Watson Lumber. In 2016 he purchased the McKenzie location where Bennett Hardware is now.
“I enjoy small town business,” Seth explained. “It allows us to really put customer service at the top of the list and to know and care about the people we are serving.”
Both Ben and Seth invite community members to stop by Watson Lumber’s new Camden location from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, for an informal open house. Seth is eager to meet all the Benton County customers who have shopped at Marks Building Materials over the years.
“I’m looking forward to meeting even more folks in the area, and to continuing to provide them with the same great service they have always counted on,” Bennett said. “So far the Benton County community has been so very helpful and welcoming to me and I am extremely pleased with the feedback we have been getting.” As for Ben – you will still see his face at the lumberyard and in the community. “I will still be a part of this community, I’ll continue living here and participating in community events,” said Ben. “I’m not going anywhere.”